Bashir says Sudan’s regional isolation ending

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir vows to end the sanctions-hit country’s isolation

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Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir vowed Saturday to end the sanctions-hit country’s isolation, saying recent visits to regional powers Egypt and Saudi Arabia proved that ties were improving, an AFP correspondent said.

Bashir, 70, who is wanted in the international court for alleged war crimes in Darfur, seized power in a coup 25 years ago. His rule has seen the imposition of a US trade embargo in 1997 over accusations including rights violations.

“We promise you that Sudan will not be isolated, and our visit to Saudi Arabia removed doubts that our trip to Egypt had returned matters to normal,” he said at the closing of the ruling National Congress Party’s conference.

NCP members nominated Bashir on Tuesday as their candidate for April 2015 presidential elections.

On top of the US embargo, Sudan’s regional ties have been strained recently. The support base of the Sudanese regime is essentially the same as the Muslim Brotherhood, a group outlawed by Cairo and Riyadh.

In October, Bashir visited Saudi Arabia and met crown prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, and travelled to Egypt for talks with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Sudan also shut Iranian cultural centres in the country in September over accusations of Shiite proselytising. A Sudanese analyst said the move could have been in response to Saudi pressure over regional rival Iran. Riyadh further isolated the Sudanese economy earlier this year by denying access to major Saudi banks.

The US embargo hit Sudan’s economy badly and Washington imposed further sanctions in 2007 over violence in the war-torn western region of Darfur.

Some 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur and two million forced to flee since non-Arab rebels rose up against the Arab-dominated regime in 2003, the UN says.

The government puts the death toll at 10,000.

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